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Panoramic pint: €20m revamp of Gravity Bar allows Guinness visitors to sip in extra comfort

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Toucan’s-eye view: Pól Ó Conghaile at the new Gravity Bar at the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin. Photo: Arthur Carron

Toucan’s-eye view: Pól Ó Conghaile at the new Gravity Bar at the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin. Photo: Arthur Carron

Toucan’s-eye view: Pól Ó Conghaile at the new Gravity Bar at the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin. Photo: Arthur Carron

A €20m revamp of the iconic Gravity Bar at the Guinness Storehouse gives a toucan's-eye view of the Dublin skyline.

The figure-of-eight expansion has doubled the size of Dublin's best-known viewing platform, providing a 721 sq m addition to a structure famously designed to look like the head of a pint at the heart of St James's Gate.

"The Gravity Bar is like the jewel in the crown," said Guinness Storehouse managing director Paul Carty.

The 16-month expansion has also led to the addition of new bars, a dedicated kitchen, and murals of Arthur Guinness and the famous toucan by Dublin artist Aches.

"Everybody comes in here to redeem their complimentary pint at the end of the tour... but it was just too tight. At any one time you could have 300 people [in the original bar], and they wanted to dwell and sip their pint in comfort and look at the view over Dublin," Mr Carty said. "So the capacity drove us."

The new bar space will function like the old one, capping off Storehouse tours, and 50 panes of floor-to-ceiling glass are inlaid with inscriptions picking out highlights from the city skyline.

The 46m-high bar is one of Dublin's top tourist attractions, with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge stopping by this week during their visit to Ireland. Previous celebrity visitors include Bill Clinton, Pink, Tom Cruise and the UK's Queen Elizabeth.

"In my prior life I ran five-star hotels in Bahrain, Singapore and Saudi Arabia, and I met very important dignitaries, but when I came back here and the queen visited, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up," Mr Carty said.

Diageo was told in advance that the queen and Prince Philip wouldn't drink any Guinness, he added. "But they were really tickled pink by the pouring of the pint... and she just loved the view."

The expansion is also something of a parting shot for Mr Carty, who is set to retire on May 1 and will be replaced by Catherine Toolan.

When he came on board 20 years ago, the then-Guinness Hopstore was pulling in a respectable 400,000 visitors a year.

Since "decanting" the business into the Guinness Storehouse in 2000, at the time a €42m redevelopment of a former fermentation plant, it has gone on to become Ireland's most visited paid-for attraction.

The new Gravity Bar follows several developments for Diageo in Dublin, including a new behind-the-scenes brewery tour, the Open Gate Brewery, and Roe & Co - one of the city's new wave of whiskey distillery experiences.

RKD, the architects behind the initial development, was brought in again to transform the bar, while O'Donnell O'Neill Design was the interior designer.

Irish Independent